WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Jan. 6 committee took the extraordinary action of subpoenaing former President Donald Trump on Thursday as it issued a stark warning in its final public hearing before the midterm election: The future of the nation’s democracy is at stake.
The panel’s October hearing, just weeks ahead of the midterm election, focused on Trump’s state of mind on Jan. 6, 2021 as he egged on his supporters with false claims of election fraud, pushed to accompany them to the Capitol while lawmakers were counting the votes, and then stood by for hours as the mob violently breached the building.
The committee is set to shut down at the beginning of next year, and was making its final public arguments ahead of a report expected in December.
“We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion,” said Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice chairwoman and one of two Republicans on the nine-member committee. “And every American is entitled to those answers. So we can act now to protect our republic.”
A SUBPOENA FOR TRUMP — BUT NOT PENCE
The subpoena for Trump is a major escalation in the probe. After signaling for months that they may leave the former president alone, the unanimous 9-0 vote “for relevant documents and testimony, under oath” was definitive.
The committee had long debated whether to seek testimony from or subpoena Trump or former Vice President Mike Pence. Neither has spoken directly to the committee. While Trump has been hostile to the probe both in court and in public, Pence’s lawyers had engaged with the panel for several months with no clear resolution.
Pence could still be called or subpoenaed. But several of his closest aides have complied with the investigation, with several of them providing great detail about his movements and state of mind as he resisted Trump’s pleas to object to the certification of electoral votes that day and try to overturn their defeat.
In contrast, the committee showed several clips of Trump allies refusing to answer questions before the panel.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, said the committee was “able to nail down every salient detail in pretty much every element of the offense” except for certain details about what Trump was doing and saying as the insurrection unfolded.